Itchy trigger finger on closing topics

Forum admins:

Why do you close topics so aggressively?

I come here for community support and quite a few times now have found topics matching what I'm looking for. I sometimes get the answer I need, and other times do not. But every single time the topic has already been closed.

If it's been closed, if I need to ask a clarifying question I cannot. I need to reach out to the admins to ask them to reopen it, and give a reason, and none of this is instant. By the time it's reopened I might have forgotten the fine details of what I wanted to ask, might have wasted a lot of time trying to figure it out for myself, and I might have got impatient and just opened a new thread. None of these are good.

Today I saw that a topic of my own had been closed as "resolved" when I hadn't even come to read the responses yet.

Why the itchy trigger finger? Please consider changing your policy here.

Hey Bart,

This is definitely a fair question, it's something I'm consistently questioning, and so, is totally open to change and input from you and other forum users.

But the idea behind closing the forum threads is part of our tracking process, in the past we were 'losing' threads that had gone unseen by our team and users weren't getting a response. So to resolve this what we do is use the discourse assign feature to add team members to a topic.

Then of course the problem is that we can't leave everything assigned forever because our inboxes will become completely unmanageable. So we close threads once there has been a resolution or it becomes inactive. This means we can combine those to indicators of assigned & closed to track threads that need attention here:

So the idea is that we give users 7 days to reply to the last response of an unresolved thread before closing and letting everyone know to contact us to re-open.

For resolved threads where a post has been marked as 'Solution' the discourse 'solved' plugin automatically closes thread 1 day after the last reply. This can be changed, and again, this is open to suggestions of what this limit should be.

I agree and worry that the closing of threads can stifle conversation and the reopening process definitely isn't perfect, especially for first time users, but it's the best process I can find at the minute to make sure every thread is seen and taken care of.

Looking forward to your thoughts on this.


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Everything you've said makes sense.

If I understand right:

  • threads start off unassigned and open
  • you treat the link you gave (threads filtered to those which are unassigned and open) as a triage queue
  • you assign them to staff members, and thereby remove them from that triage list
  • each staff member can then track their tasks by filtering to open threads assigned to them
  • once a thread no longer needs attention from that staff member they close it, so it disappears from their task list, and it does not reappear in the triage list

It's a shame threads need to be closed to achieve this workflow. It occurred to me that you could just unassign rather than closing, but I realize that if you did that the thread would then appear in the triage list again.

It seems to me what's missing is either of these:

  • an indicator for "resolved" which doesn't also close the thread, so your triage list could filter out anything with this indicator; the staff could then finish off by adding the "resolved" indicator and optionally unassigning themself
  • or an indicator for "needs triage", which automatically is added on thread creation and is removed when assigning a staff member; the staff could then finish off by just unassigning themself

In either case, if support staff's attention is needed again during further discussion the staff member can always be tagged, right?

I've never adminned Discourse so I don't know whether either of these is feasible, but it seems to me that either of these options would meet your requirements while also allowing further discussion.

You understood correctly. Your suggestions are nice too, the only issue being if something is unresolved and we've had no reply for a long time then the threads begin to pile up in our inbox.

Luckily this started the conversation in our team though and @Fares is looking in to possibility of users being able to automatically open threads by themselves with the Flag option and the Discourse API.

He's testing this and hopefully we can get back to you on that soon.

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That's great. Thanks.

I often see on Github repositories this getting handled automatically -- a "stale" flag is added after some time, and can be removed again by the user. Presumably people then filter out things with "stale" while looking for their to-do list.

That could be a good idea. We're definitely looking in to improving this, so we'll see if that could work. Hopefully the automatic thing could work, but this is a great backup solution to explore.

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Close as this is currently being worked on. Once we have updates we'll reopen.